Zumobi, an application that brings games, news, and more to your smart phone in an iPhone-like icon format, is no longer the sole province of Windows Mobile users. We liked the app when we reviewed its beta version in February but found it a bit unpolished. Now that it’s updated and available for the BlackBerry Curve, Pearl, and 8800 series devices, we gave it another look.
The free Zumobi application features small programs called Tiles, which draw content from the Web. (You’ll want to make sure you have an unlimited data plan.) After signing up on the company’s Web site, we received an SMS message with the Zumobi download link on our AT&T BlackBerry Curve 8310.
The client took 4 minutes and 30 seconds to download over AT&T’s EDGE network, and the installation process took an additional 50 seconds—similar to our first experience with the application on the HTC Tilt and Samsung BlackJack.
When we started the app, we were told that Zumobi had to install the initial four tiles. This process took an additional 3 minutes; afterward, the home screen had a tile for AccuWeather, Blackjack (the game), MTV Movies, and NPR. Navigating back to my.zumobi.com, we chose Gallery and were able to send AP News, Facebook, Flickr, and a Weather tile down to our phone. Each took an average of 20 seconds to arrive in our Zumobi tile inbox. Each new tile took 6 seconds to open and load. That’s two seconds slower than the HTC Tilt and Samsung BlackJack took during our original Zumobi Beta test.
In its beta version, Zumobi displayed a large field of tiles when it launched; now, the app zooms in on four tiles when upon launching, making the interface look cleaner. We also appreciated that there are now 202 different tiles to choose from, up from the initial 75 that were available during our first look at Zumobi. (Full disclosure: Laptopmag.com recently launched a Zumobi tile). Still, that count pales in comparison to the 20,000-plus offered by Plusmo, another mobile widget application.
Some of the new Zumobi tiles include Facebook and Twitter, as well as a Headline tile that gives you quick access to your RSS feeds. At the bottom of each tile is a small advertisement banner that is unimposing, but when paired with a Zumobi menu bar at the top of the screen and at the bottom, it didn’t leave much space for viewing the tile content. We wish that the Zumobi menu bars would automatically disappear while we were accessing contentto give us more screen real estate.
Because BlackBerrys lack touchscreens (for now, at least), you need to press number keys that correspond with groups of tiles to access each tile, as opposed to pressing the screen itself. This was the same experience we had on the Samsung BlackJack running Windows Mobile. It’s easy to do, but we had more fun with Zumobi on our touchscreen HTC Tilt. Unfortunately, the app was a bit sluggish regardless of whether the device had a touchscreen or not.
We love that Zumobi has added new content, and while the performance could be snappier, the interface is much improved. Since it’s free, we recommend checking Zumobi out, especially if you want to keep up on news and social networks all in one place. But if you want a larger library of content and a slightly faster UI, we also recommend checking out Plusmo.